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Featured Articles

Ode to Empty Nesters

dan seabornThat's me. A sort of empty nester. I now sometimes have my dad staying with me along with one of my adult daughters. Parents of younger children often dream about this time when they will be empty nesters. The kids will be out of the house and it will just be the two of them again.

For some parents that idea might be a frightening thought. Some couples have invested their entire life in the activities and lives of their children and they don't know what to talk about or how to act when it is just the two of them. I'm thankful that Jane and I have always built in time for ourselves throughout our marriage relationship so that we are comfortable spending time together without the kids.

Friendship CRC to Display Dozens of Nativity Sets from Around the World Dec. 7-8

Friendship CRC cutline No. 1Bev Abma: “My journey started years ago when we were in language school in Costa Rica.” The public is invited to gaze at an assortment of Nativity sets from around the world at Friendship Christian Reformed Church, 190 100th St. SE, in Byron Center.

The Nativity sets will number more than 100 and will be displayed from 4-8 p.m. on Dec. 7 and from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Dec. 8.

A free will offering will be equally divided to support Growing Hope Globally, formally Food Resource Bank, a Christian nonprofit organization that raises resources to support farmers in developing countries to stem food insecurity; and Enyuaata e Maa Development Organization, or EMADO, that works in to substitute Kenya's female genital mutilation for Maasai women with more positive rites of passage.

Products from Global Gifts also will be available for sale.

Local Author Offers New Look at Bible Characters

LessthanperfectAnn Spangler, known for her in-depth and unique studies of biblical stories, this time turns to the flawed characters in the Bible for spiritual insight in her new book "Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We can Learn from Them" (Zondervan).

"I like to say that every story in the Bible is about God; I thought it would be interesting to look at these stories and offer cultural and historical context to see what they reveal to us," said Spangler. "I looked at a range of people, from the despicable like Herod the Great to some who are more like us: a mix of light and darkness."

Christmas Music…Drama, to Celebrate the Season

Hark Up  Geoff HansenGeoff Hansen’s vocals supported by dozens of musicians in last year’s “Hark Up” Since West Michigan has already experienced a taste of winter, area residents seem further drawn to the upcoming Christmas holiday. The list of  musical/drama holiday events begins this month.

One of the preeminent holiday musicals each season is "Hark Up": the multi-media extravaganza featuring hundreds of performers – choirs and instrumental ensembles and soloists. This is the 19th year for the ambitious production, which features five performances: 7:30pm Fri. Nov. 30 and Sat. Dec. 1, and matinee shows at 3pm Sat., and 1:30 and 5:30pm Sun. Dec. 2 at DeVos Center for Worship & the Arts, at Grand Rapids Christian High School, 2300 Plymouth Ave. SE.

Mark Schultz Combines Family, Music

Schultz Mark performanceSinger-songwriter Mark Schultz "I just can't stay away," said singer-songwriter Mark Schultz about his frequent visits to West Michigan. "There's a real pull for me there and I just love it."

The veteran inspirational artist was in Grand Haven just last August, closing out the popular summertime Worship on the Waterfront (WOW) series. And now he returns to the area for a solo concert Sun. Nov. 11 in Hudsonville at Fairhaven Church.

He brings with him a new album ("Follow"), several new stories, and a forthcoming Christmas release.

Sunshine Community Church’s New Location Marks Return to Foundational Mission

Sunshine Church Cutline No. 1Sunshine Church’s new location will be in the Creston neighborhood at 3019 Coit Ave. NE. Sunshine Community Church is moving to a new location that marks a return to its foundational mission when it was founded nearly 100 years ago.

Established in 1923, Sunshine has been at four locations in Northeast Grand Rapids.

Its most visible was its 72-acre campus at 3300 E. Beltline Ave. NE. It included a 2,300-seat worship center built in 1989, as well as a separate classroom building and administrative building, an activity room and a commercial kitchen. It was sold earlier this year to Illinois-based property developer Franklin Partners, which will retrofit the buildings for residential use.

Terry’s Picks: November 2018

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian web writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for November:

Bon Appetit

dan seabornWould you sit at a table with 21 other people and then have a crane hoist that table l65 feet in the air so you could enjoy a unique dining experience? Many people have done just that and paid over $10,000 for the chance. It's called Dinner in the Sky and it's available to rent in most countries.

If that's not your cup of tea, how much would you be willing to pay for a great meal on the ground? Some of you may say $1,000 while others would go even higher. Still some people wouldn't go beyond $20 for a decent meal.

Recently I was talking with a gentleman who told me he was one of the top chefs at one of the most elite restaurants in all of the United States and perhaps the world. I joked with him that maybe my wife and I would go there and drop a couple hundred bucks.
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Covenant House Michigan, Grand Rapids Campus to Provide at Risk, Runaway, Homeless Youth with Faith-based Residential Services

Covenant House Cutline No. 1A rendering of the three-story Covenant House Michigan, Grand Rapids campus. A first-of-its-kind faith-based residential program in Grand Rapids for at risk, runaway or homeless youth will soon be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Covenant House Michigan, Grand Rapids campus (CHMGR) is in the final stages of constructing a $3.5 million three-story building at 26 Antoine St. SW, near the intersection of S. Division Avenue and Franklin Street. It is slated to open in late November, and will have a staff of 20 with an annual operating budget of just under $1 million.

It's the second Covenant House in Michigan; the first is in Detroit, established 20 years ago.

Dove Awards Shower Christian Music Artists

WilliamsZach perf at 2018 DovesZach Williams performs at the 2018 Dove Awards. The recent Gospel Music Association Dove Awards ceremonies in Nashville, Tenn. saw dozens of Christian music artists honored by their industry and artistic colleagues.

And many of them have ties to West Michigan or are coming to the area for concerts over the next several months.

The inspirational pop-rock band For King & Country, performing in Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena Dec. 9 , won a Dove Award for its holiday album "Christmas: Live in Phoenix."

"We were kind of shocked by that," said singer-songwriter Luke Smallbone the day after the Oct. 16 award ceremonies. "(The album) really had the band guys' fingerprints all over it, and it was great playing those Christmas songs."

Master Arts Theatre Gains Award Nominations

jobThe lead character in his mosaic costume in the stage play "The Book of Job" Karen Larabel is charged with safe-keeping the most elaborate costumes in the Master Arts Theatre inventory.

"I'm hanging on to them," said Larabel of the highly-detailed mosaic garments used last fall in the faith-based theater group's production of "The Book of Job."

"They are fragile, and (Master Arts) is having me protect them."

Jesus Culture Brings More Worship Songs

Walker-Smith KIm  studio shotKim Walker-Smith of Jesus CultureSinger-songwriter Kim Walker-Smith had a few minutes to spare for a phone interview. "I'm taking advantage of some respite time while my children are sleeping," said the mother of three from her Sacramento, Calif. home.

Walker-Smith is part of Jesus Culture, a worship band firmly connected to a church of the same name. The band members were about to embark on a new tour coinciding with the release of their latest album, "Living With A Fire." (The tour comes to West Michigan on Oct. 16....see details below).

Terry’s Picks: October 2018

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for October:

New Music Review: Jeremy Hoekstra

Learning the Hard Way - Cover ArtWest Michigan singer-songwriter and worship leader Jeremy Hoekstra has released a new song that provides commentary on his recent life experience.

"Learning the Hard Way," is actually a cover version of a song by the band Gin Blossoms. But the lyrics resonated with Hoekstra in light of his family's struggle with his wife Lindsay's persistent health issues.

The couple has walked a protracted trail of doctor visits, tests and insurance squabbles.

The keyboard and acoustic guitar-based anthem has fairly bouyant pop rhythms. Yet the words tell of an uncertain journey in which "we're just too close to quit."

Basking in CityFest’s Afterglow: What’s Next?

CityFest Cutline No. 1-1A combined 33,000 people attended the Sept. 8-9 CityFest to Ah-Nab-Awen Park. The recent two-day CityFest West Michigan drew a collective 33,000 people to Ah-Nab-Awen Park in downtown Grand Rapids that resulted in more than 2,000 making commitments for Christ. But now that the evangelistic outreach is finished, the larger question remains: what happens next?

Cornerstone University president Joseph Stowell, who served as the CityFest's co-chair, said the evangelistic outreach, produced by Portland, Oregon-based Luis Palau Association, succeeded in crossing denominational lines by bringing 435 Grand Rapids-area churches and nonprofit ministry organizations to work in unison toward one goal.

New Music Review: Tiffany Coverly

Tiffany Coverly EP coverSinger-songwriter Tiffany Coverly has issued the lead single/video from her forthcoming extended play (EP) recording. The song she selected to front the self-titled project is a version of the For King & Country song "Joy."

Initially the song was proposed by her vocal coach, Anthem Lights singer Spencer Kane. "The more I listened to the lyrics, the more I realized how much it resonates with us as Christians," she said. "It's about choosing joy above our feelings." (See and hear the rhythmic track online.)

Tiffany is the wife of Christian illusionist Tom Coverly. And she officially released her music video just before the end of August when the couple re-located from the Grand Rapids area to Gulf Shores, Ala.

“Unbroken: Path to Redemption” is well worth seeing

Unbroken image from imdb"Unbroken: Path to Redemption" is a stirring film, which touches the emotions and offers hope at the same time. Based on the best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand, and the true story of Louis Zamperini, the film powerfully tells the story of the former Olympian who lands back in America after he is freed from being a P.O.W. This sequel to "Unbroken" picks up where that film left off, with this one focusing on Zamperini's salvation, following his battle with alcohol and his bitterness toward the Japanese prison guard who beat him while he was incarcerated. This faith-based film definitely focuses on the spiritual life of Zamperini, much more so than the first film. And it features Billy Graham's grandson, Will Graham, as the world renowned evangelist, Billy. Zamperini's life changes when he attends an L.A. tent meeting held by Graham. His wife, Cynthia, a Christian, keeps at Zamperini to attend. His drinking is destroying his family life, including putting a damper on the birth of his first child. So, after Cynthia's unflagging perseverance in urging Louis to attend, he finally caves in and does. In a dramatic moment in the film Zamperini is literally walking out of the meeting when Dr. Graham himself tells him there is no running from God.

Art Prize A Connection for Churches

Blessed“Blessed are” – The expressive painting is an ArtPrize entry displayed at First (Park) Congregational Church Sally Lundquist is happy to see this year's ArtPrize entries going up on display at her First (Park) Congregational Church in downtown Grand Rapids.

A year ago, the congregation wasn't sure it would be a venue for the 2018 art competition.

"We were all concerned about our sanctuary repair project, and weren't sure it would be completed," said Lundquist, Art Prize committee chair for the historic downtown church at 10 E. Park Pl. NE.

The church's large social hall, usually filled with temporary gallery walls for ArtPrize displays, was still being used for worship during the first part of September as sanctuary repairs were completed.

Capernaum Campers Demonstrate Leadership Skills

Sara Webb Cutline No. 1Sara Webb’s 13-year-old son, Malachi, was not a Capernaum camper but served as a volunteer, nevertheless and made friends. “They’re fun people,” said Malachi. "What might the church look like if people with profound and complex intellectual disabilities were conceived of as disciples with a distinct vocation—a calling given them by Jesus?" author John Swinton.

While the summer camp season is in the rearview mirror of history, Sara Webb is filled with the conviction that hope springs eternal.

The reason for Webb's optimism is because of what she experienced with a group of young adults with cognitive disabilities at a four-day discipleship camp at Timber Wolf Lake camp in Lake City.

Terry’s Picks, September 2018

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer monthly surveys the landscape for the area's faith-related entertainment-enrichment events that might otherwise be overlooked. Here are three highlights for September:

Upcoming CityFest to Mingle Sports, Music, Kids’ Fun with Messages of Hope

CityFest Cutline No. 1Luis Palau has spoken to more than 30 million people in 75 countries.The Sept. 8-9 CityFest West Michigan promises to be an inspirational blend of liveliness.

Think of the two-day faith-based gala at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in downtown Grand Rapids as part heart-pounding concert, part sports derring-do, part kid-friendly amusement, with a healthy dose of a ageless human essential: the Gospel of hope.

In other words, CityFest is more of an emphasis on making it a festival than the crusades previous generations have known.

Admission is free and the start time is 3 p.m. for both days.

Crowned Free’s Fashion Line Funds ‘Massive Need’ to Restore Victims of Human Trafficking

Crowned Free Cutline No. 1Heidi VanderWal: “God has spoken supernaturally through this whole journey.” Heidi VanderWal purposely keeps a journal next to her bed.

The direct sales entrepreneur keeps pen and paper at hand because she never knows when a concept will unexpectedly sprout in her mind that she can use for her custom fashion business named Crowned Free that her and a friend founded.

The ideas VanderWal says she receives from God are vital because they are fused to Crowned Free's mission of helping survivors of sex trafficking.

Busy Fall Concert Scene Has Plenty of Highlights

West MatthewMatthew West comes to West Michigan October 11 This fall brings a good selection of Christian music concerts to West Michigan - in churches and other venues of all types and sizes.

Take September, for example.

*One of the hottest new worship songs these days is “Reckless Love.” The anthem just scored a 2018 Dove Award nomination as overall Song of the Year. The songwriter, worship leader Cory Asbury of Bethel Music, comes to Grand Rapids for a 7:30pm Thur. Sept. 20 concert in Christ Chapel at Cornerstone University. Also performing is fellow Bethel artist Kalley Heiligenthal. Tickets range from $35 to $18; available online
or by phone at 800-965-9324.

Reunion Concert Brings Memories and Music

His Image 2018"We'd been talking about doing some kind of reunion for some time," said Ken Reynolds of his former gospel music group His Image.
And after 17 years the West Michigan-based, urban contemporary ensemble is finally coming together again for a concert on Sun. Aug. 26.

The artists individually are involved in various Christian ministries in the area but worked out a time on a Sunday morning when all of them could get together. The performance is part of the New Hope Baptist Church's "Summer Breeze" series.

I’m Not Any Good At That

dan seabornDan Seaborn Parents, here’s a phrase you’re definitely going to hear your kids say somewhere along life’s road. They’re going to say, “I don’t want to do that because I’m not any good at it.”

I have had this experience at one time or another with all my children but I remember when it happened with my youngest child. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to play a certain sport at school because she didn’t think that she would be any good.

Isn’t the same true for many of us? Don’t we only want to take part in events where we know for sure we are going to excel or be the best? Kids need to be reassured that they aren’t alone in these feelings and that it’s okay not to always be the top dog. It is some of the best preparation we can give them for life.

Alpha Family Center of Lowell Serves Pro-life Front Line with New Tapestry of Enhancements

Alpha Family Center of Lowell No. 1With the help of Eric Bartkus, Christa Wetzel holds the exterior sign that will be displayed at Alpha Family Center of Lowell’s new location. The Alpha Family Center of Lowell's (AFCL) pro-life mission remains firmly intact, but a tapestry of enhancements enable this pregnancy and family nonprofit to stand against the headwind of abortion more effectively.

Recent changes include switching its name in 2016 from Alpha Women's Center to its more inclusive moniker that does a better job of reflecting the services it provides to both women and men; the purchase of an ultrasound machine that affords sharp images of unborn babies at its earliest months of development; adding a volunteer medical staff; and as of July 12 of this year a new, larger location, complete with a remolded interior that conveys an open, bright and welcoming vibe.

Unity Music Festival Set for Banner Year

Unity Festival crowd 2017The crowd at last year’s Unity Festival in Muskegon The 18th annual Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon has assembled one of its top headlining artist groups ever.

With the Aug. 8-11 line-up of David Crowder, MercyMe, Casting Crowns and For King & County, the Unity gathering has arguably the strongest top-of-the-bill offering of any Christian festival in the Midwest.

"We work on it quite far in advance, and this year fell together especially well and the response has been tremendous," said festival director Kevin Newton.

Tradition Meets Unconventional: Beer & Hymns Combines Quaffing a Pint with Robust Hymn Singing

Beer  Hymns logoThere is no church steeple, altar or pulpit. Instead, it's a crowd of people who recently packed into the Last Chance Tavern & Grill in Southeast Grand Rapids to sing some of Christianity's oldest hymns while quaffing a beer or two.

Welcome to Beer & Hymns, a family-friendly gathering of people that's connected to a larger movement that started in 2006 at the Greenbelt Festival in England where people were invited to raise their pints and sing some hymns. Beer & Hymns has since mushroomed worldwide.

It's clear the local Beer & Hymns enjoys a reputation that precedes itself since the first time people started belting out hymns at the Last Chance in December 2015. Back then, around 30 people gathered to sing Christmas hymns, said co-owner Tom Eastman. Today, an average of 80 people of all ages show up.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

mrrogersHe was unique. Tall and thin, with a gentle and distinctive voice, Fred Rogers was the television host for children for many years, as a pioneer of television in the fifties and stretching into the 2-K century. His long-running and award-winning TV show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, ran for 31 seasons--during the years 1968 to 2001. Now, his story is told in this new documentary.

The film opens with black and white scenes of Mr. Rogers from 1967. He begins by talking about modifications and how that the children will have to go through modifications in life. He sits at the piano, tickling the keys, and mentions that it is difficult to go from the key of C to the key of F on the piano, and that his young viewers will face times in their lives that will require modifications that will be difficult. He was, from the outset, a teacher.

Stress less

dan seabornDan SeabornSomeone once shared with me that the word stressed is desserts spelled backwards. But I don't think anyone finds anything sweet about stress. In fact, more often, stress leaves a sour taste in our mouth.

The more people I talk to the more I understand that we live in a world of stress. We stress over our children, we stress over our marriage, we stress over our job, we stress over our pets, we stress over our grass, we stress over our shoes, we stress over our hair and we stress over how much stress we are under!

I've discovered that pretty much everybody faces stress, so I wanted to provide you with a couple of tips and ideas on how you might deal with the anxiousness you feel.

Brittany Jacobson’s Created Free Ministry Earns Trust of At-risk Women

Created Free No. 1Brittany Jacobson: “We love them where they’re at.” Brittany Jacobson was 19 years old when a Women At Risk (WAR) International conference she attended in Chicago gripped her conscience.

WAR peels away the underbelly of human trafficking so at-risk women and children can experience freedom from what the U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines as a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people that forces them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation.

"I felt really compelled to do something after we left," said Jacobson, now 24 years old.

Gaither Vocal Band & Friends Headline Concert

Gaither Vocal Band 2017Bill Gaither (center) and the Gaither Vocal BandGospel music maven Bill Gaither keeps hearing the same comments each time there's a line-up shuffle in his famed Gaither Vocal Band.

"They say, 'Every time you make a change, we think...oh, you lost something special,'" said Gaither, 82, from his Alexandria, Ind. office.

"But they also say, 'You always surprise us...' And they are loving this current group."

After last year's departure of long time tenor David Phelps, singer Reggie Smith signed on with the Grammy Award-winning quintet. Smith is no stranger to Gaither's "Homecoming" array of artists – he and his wife Ladye Love Smith have sung with Gaither's wider group of artists for the last 18 years.

Master Arts Theatre Looking to New Home

MAT new - outdoor viewThe current Good News Baptist Church will be the new home of Master Arts Theatre. They're working carefully on the real-life script. And if all goes well, Master Arts Theatre (MAT) will complete the journey of taking the stage at a new location.

"There are so many advantages at this new site," said Tim Van Bruggen, executive director of the faith-based, community theater group.

Since 2001 Master Arts has labored in a small headquarters/performance space tucked away on 77th St. just east of S. Division Ave. The theater group rented the facility, did some renovations, and eventually purchased it outright. But over the years its limited audience seating, lack of storage, non-accessible areas and parking challenges combined to crimp the growing theater ministry.

Christian Is Not The Same As (Fill In The Blank)

rexsat7Dr. Rex M. RogersIt should be obvious, but apparently it is not. "Christian," by which I mean naming Christ as Savior and living with a Christian worldview based upon Scripture, is not ipso facto the same thing as Conservative or Liberal, Republican or Democrat, even gender, race, ethnicity, or nationality.

The degree to which one equates Christian with any of these is the degree to which he or she dilutes the power of Christian faith and the ability to critique and to speak truth to power.

First Century Christians knew this. On the one hand, the Apostle Paul enjoined Roman Christians to "be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established," and to not rebel, to pay taxes, and to give those in authority honor and respect (Romans 13:1-7). On the other hand, the Apostle Peter said, "We must obey God rather than human beings" (Acts 5:29), preserving for the faith its special higher station. Jesus referenced a similar thought saying, "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Matthew 22:21).

Teen Author Urges Young Readers to ‘Stand Beautiful’

IMG 2903Chloe Howard has faced hard things in her 18 years. She was born with a club foot and has gone through several intense surgeries, yet she was always told by her parents "that I was beautiful and special and that God made me for a purpose," she said.

It wasn't until she was assaulted at her small Christian school that she saw her foot as something negative. When two girls forcibly removed her shoe and showed her foot to friends, they turned what Chloe always thought of as uniquely hers into an object of shame.

The police got involved and, eventually, the two girls stood trial. No asking for forgiveness, to apologizing, no moving forward. She was "Chloe the Victim," she says in her new book "Stand Beautiful: A Story of Brokenness, Beauty & Embracing It All," recently released by Zondervan. Until Chloe met Bono after her dad entered and won an online contest. Yes, that Bono.

That Bono said, "You stay available for work, and the work will wash over you."

Terry’s Picks: July 2018

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-related entertainment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for July. Each is part of a greater community celebration.

Liz Haan’s Marie La Mode Boutique Follows Family Legacy of Faith in God

Marie La Mode Cutline No. 1-1Liz Haan is an passionate fashionista. Liz Haan is a goal setter. Following the grand opening of her boutique, Marie La Mode at 910 Cherry St. SE in Grand Rapids, Haan set a weekly sales target for her 1,500-square foot store.

But at the close of a recent week, it appeared she would fall $400 short of that goal.

And then at the 11th hour, a couple walked into her women's clothing store and — wait for it — purchased $400 worth of merchandise.

But what the 29-year-old Haan gained wasn't just making ends meet, but another lesson in faith.

"I was worried and wasn't trusting You," said Haan. "You sent in a couple and it was perfect a little reminder You're still here still paying attention."

Baker Book House, KDL Join to Bring Popular Children’s Author to GR

KellyDePucchioMichigan author Kelly DiPucchio will visit Grand Rapids to read from and talk about her new book Super Manny Cleans Up! in a special event sponsored by Baker Book House and Kent District Library.

The event takes place at Cascade Township Park and will be a morning of stories, crafts, and park clean-up geared towards elementary-age children.

Super Manny Cleans Up! is second in the Manny series, with Super Manny Stands Up! published in 2017. DiPucchio is also author of bestsellers Grace for President, The Sandwich Swap, Antoinette and Gaston, among many others.

Singer Takes the Field for Local Concert

Heath. Brandon standingBrandon Heath Singer-songwriter Brandon Heath is no stranger to stepping up to the plate for a concert in a baseball stadium.

"Honestly, those are some of my favorite summertime gigs," said Heath from his Nashville home. "I do at least one a summer."

Heath will do a pre-game concert June 29 at Fifth Third Ballpark before a West Michigan Whitecaps game.

Earlier this summer Heath performed at the home of a Whitecaps rival, the South Bend Cubs in Indiana.

"They gave me some cool Cubs swag," he recalled. "I wasn't able to sing the National Anthem for them that day, but I promised to come back and do it another time."

The Death of Discussion

rexsat7Dr. Rex M. RogersDuring the U.S. Presidential campaign, back in February 2016, I stopped posting political content on social media. I just quit cold turkey.

Before this I'd tried to post about issues. I didn't mention just one but always several candidates, attempted to be non-partisan, never spoke negatively of the previous Administration, and in no way attacked Democrat or Republican candidates or otherwise use my social media to campaign. In retrospect, I guess I was naïve. I actually tried to conduct a discussion about important issues. Usually, it didn't happen.

I found that people didn't read the nuances of what I said, and they didn't discuss the issue. Mostly, they reacted emotionally, defending their partisan view and/or candidate—who I had often not mentioned—and frequently did so with rancor not found in my posts. People used my nonpartisan social media post as a platform to rant or to proclaim the virtues of their candidate, even when this had nothing directly to do with the issue content of my post.

Two New CD’s Offer Musical Contrasts

Billboard of Steven Malcolm albumBillboard of Steven Malcolm's albumWest Michigan has produced a number of inspirational music artists through the decades.

But two of our favorite sons - Steven Malcolm and Kevin Max - have released new recordings which are claiming their spots on the musical spectrum.

‘Little Miracles’ Exemplify Rademakers’ Malawi Connection

Malawi Connection No. 1Serving people in need are a characteristic quality of Jim and Sandy Rademaker’s faith. Guess who's coming to stay with us for a while?

It's a question Jim Rademaker would explain to his wife of 51 years, Sandy, when he called their home 20 years ago to let her know a man from a southeast African country would end up on their doorsteps.

What neither of them knew then is the man from Malawi would eventually become the conduit for broadening God's love in some very tangible ways.

Starting in 1998, the Grand Rapids couple launched a nonprofit they initially dubbed the Malawi Project — later renamed in 2006 the Malawi Connection — that made is possible to build water wells, plant trees that's later made into charcoal, provided AIDS and agricultural ecosystems training, launched the beginning stages of solar power, built medical clinics, helped stem a food shortage, established micro loans for businesses and scholarships for girls' education.
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